AUGUSTA — As voters cast their ballots for the November 2 elections, Mainers will decide on three statewide referendum questions, including one that will determine the future of the Central Maine Power Corridor. This question was placed on the Maine ballot via a citizen initiative.
Question 1 reads: Do you want to ban the construction of high-impact electric transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec Region and to require the Legislature to approve all other such projects anywhere in Maine, both retroactively to 2020, and to require the Legislature, retroactively to 2014, to approve by a two-thirds vote such projects using public land?
“This initiated bill requires the approval of the Legislature for the construction of high- impact electric transmission lines and provides that high-impact electric transmission lines crossing or utilizing public lands must be approved by 2/3 of all the members elected to each House of the Legislature. This initiated bill also prohibits the construction of high- impact electric transmission lines in the Upper Kennebec Region. These provisions apply retroactively to September 16, 2020, the date of filing of this initiative.
“This initiated bill also requires the approval of 2/3 of all the members elected to each House of the Legislature for any use of public lands for transmission lines and facilities and certain other projects. This provision applies retroactively to September 16, 2014.”
Voting YES on the question will halt the construction of the CMP Corridor, and establish a provision that any other such project must first be approved by the Legislature. Furthermore, if any projects dating back to 2014 are on public lands, passage of this measure would require that two-thirds of the Legislature approve the project on public land.
Voting NO on the question would clear the way for the CMP Corridor to continue, and the Legislature would not be tasked with voting on future projects.
Former lawmaker Tom Saviello is among the critics of the Corridor project and has called the project “a bad deal for Maine and for Maine people.”
Supporters of the construction project, such as Clean Energy Matters, say the corridor will create more than 1,600 jobs and will increase the state’s Gross Domestic Product by $573 million.
“The clean energy corridor project will bring clean, renewable hydropower to Maine and New England, reducing our reliance on fossil fuels and cutting 3 million metric tons of dirty emissions from our air,” Clean Energy Matters claims, while also saying that Mainers could save millions over the next 15 years through lower electricity costs.
The Say NO to NECEC group opposing the project counters by saying the project will cause “irreparable damage to Maine’s undeveloped forest” and that the project will “destroy heritage fisheries and harm the regional tourism industry.”
The opposition group also claims “jobs in the biomass industry and related forest products industries [will be] put in jeopardy” and that the project will “cost Maine-based renewables $400 million in the first 15 years of operation, jeopardizing hundreds of good paying jobs.”